What happens after the halfway point?

A look at the Championships and how they have panned out

Hall leads at the halfway mark

It's gone quickly, but we're already at the halfway point in the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship, so there's never a better time to reflect on the recent seasons to see what we can learn from previous years and what we can expect for the second half of this season.

We'll take the four most recent seasons, since the sport returned in 2014 and see what the state of play was after the first four rounds and how the season finished, so here goes...

Year: 2014
Fourth race of the season: Gdynia, Poland

Championship Standings after fourth race:
1st Hannes Arch – 42pts
2nd Paul Bonhomme – 29pts
3rd Nigel Lamb – 26pts

Gdynia represented the Red Bull Air Race's first visit to Poland and what a race it was. In testing conditions, Hannes Arch took the win, meaning he was the clear leader at the halfway point. He'd collected two wins and two second places in the opening part of the season.

Paul Bonhomme had collected a win, a second place but then two fifth place finishes. He was comfortably sitting in second. In third place, just 16 points away from Arch was Nigel Lamb. He'd won the third race in Putrajaya and finished second in Gdynia.

The second half of the season turned the championship on it's head. Lamb finished second in the four remaining races, whilst Bonhomme could only claim one more podium and Arch was unable to carry on his form. It all came down to the final race and Lamb claimed his fifth second place of the season, Arch finished fourth and Bonhomme fifth, meaning Lamb was crowned World Champion.
Final 2014 standings:
1st Nigel Lamb – 62pts
2nd Hannes Arch – 53pts
3rd Paul Bonhomme – 51pts

Year: 2015

Fourth race of the season: Budapest, Hungary
Championship Standings after fourth race:
1st Paul Bonhomme – 34pts
2nd Hannes Arch – 29pts
3rd Matt Hall – 29pts

Hannes Arch was on the warpath in the fourth race in 2015. He had to watch his great rival Paul Bonhomme take two wins from three races, but he had started his run to the title in the third race in Rovinj where he won. Matt Hall was looking very competitive. He'd taken two second places and a third, so it was very tight at the top.

Hall topped Qualifying and was becoming the favourite to take his first career win. Arch had finished third and Bonhomme down in eighth.

Race Day was a different story, as Bonhomme and Arch blitzed their way to the Final 4, but Hall lost out to Martin Sonka in the Round of 8. Arch went on to take the win, with Bonhomme in second and Sonka in third.

The final four races became a two-way battle between Hall and Bonhomme. Arch fell away, unable to continue his vein of form. In the remaining four races, Bonhomme and Hall both took two wins. However, when one took the win, the other finished second. It was close right until the Final 4 at the season finale in Las Vegas where Hall took the win, but Bonhomme was second and claimed his third World Championship title.
Final 2015 standings:
1st Paul Bonhomme – 76pts
2nd Matt Hall – 71pts
3rd Hannes Arch – 34pts

Year: 2016
Fourth race of the season: Budapest, Hungary

Championship Standings after fourth race:
1st Matthias Dolderer – 41.25pts
2nd Hannes Arch – 26pts
3rd Kirby Chambliss – 25.25

The fourth race of 2016 was very interesting. Cut short by unseasonal bad weather in Budapest, the race only went as far as the Round of 8. The rain became so bad that the Final 4 couldn't take place. Matthias Dolderer took the win (because he had set the fastest time in his Round of 8 heat). He had started the season strongly with a second and a win in the first two races and this was enough to put him cleanly at the top.

Hannes Arch had taken a win, but hadn't been at his best until Budapest where he finished second (again, he set the second fastest time in the Round of 8). Kirby Chambliss was also performing well, finishing in the top half and claiming his first podium for two seasons. The biggest change around from the first half of the season to the second was Matt Hall. He had been suffering with a back injury for the first three races, but seemed to have it beaten by Budapest. This spurred him on and he won the next two races, closely chasing down Dolderer.

However, it was a similar story to 2015 for Hall. When he won, Dolderer was second and when the German won at race seven in Indianapolis, he'd claimed the World Championship title with a race to spare.
Final 2016 standings:
1st Matthias Dolderer – 80.25pts
2nd Matt Hall – 55.75pts
3rd Hannes Arch – 41pts

Year: 2017
Fourth race of the season: Budapest, Hungary

Championship Standings after fourth race:
1st Yoshihide Muroya – 39pts
2nd Martin Sonka – 37pts
3rd Pete McLeod – 26pts

2017 was an exciting year and the fourth race was no different. Kirby Chambliss won in Budapest – his first win for eight years. Pete McLeod was second and Yoshihide Muroya third. All the way through the season, Sonka and Muroya were swapping places in the standings. The following two races were good for Sonka, but disastrous for Muroya.

Race seven in Lausitz saw Muroya take his third win of the season and Sonka finish third. This meant that Sonka was leading the Championship by four points with just the final race of the season to come. Both he and Muroya made it all the way to the Final 4. Muroya flew first and set a time 1:03.026. For Sonka to win the title, he had to finish one place behind Muroya or beat his time. The pressure got to Sonka and he ended up fourth, handing the title to Muroya.
Final 2017 standings:
1st Yoshihide Muroya – 74pts
2nd Martin Sonka – 70pts
3rd Pete McLeod – 56pts

Year: 2018
Fourth race of the season: Budapest, Hungary

Championship Standings after fourth race:
1st Matt Hall – 45pts
2nd Michael Goulian – 43pts
3rd Martin Sonka – 34pts
It has been one of the best starts to the season in the sport's history. We've had three different winners, from three different continents and once again, it's tight at the top.

Michael Goulian blew away the competition at the season opener to take the win and since then he's got into the Final 4 at every race. He's only missed out on the podium once due to a bad run.

Matt Hall has finished on the podium three times out of four, and two of those he's walked away with the winners medal.

Martin Sonka won in Budapest, and if it hadn't been for two DQs at the start of the season, he would've been in the Final 4 each time as well. But the surprise package has been Mika Brageot, who took his first career podium in Budapest and is now on his way to challenge the top pilots.

History has shown that the pilot leading at the halfway stage has a very strong chance of taking the title, but sport doesn't always work like that! So, stay tuned because the second half of the 2018 Red Bull Air Race World Championship season will be just as exciting.

The second half kicks off with race five in Kazan on 25-26 August, get your tickets HERE.